Downtown Orlando: the heartbeat of the city

Orlando’s Central Business District by day, nightlife and culture hub by night

Downtown Orlando: the heartbeat of the city
photo courtesy Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Downtown Orlando is a scene of lofty lobsters, larger than life Lynxes, bacchanalian concrete jungle crawls, and art admirers. An approachable and easily navigated downtown sometimes called the Central Business District, this neighborhood of Orlando is the heartbeat of the city and is appreciated for its commitment to art, food, social justice movements, and live concerts and club music experiences. From galleries to the Fringe ArtSpace to live music venues of all stripes, there is something for every lover of the performing arts. And for the sports lovers: You can support the Orlando Magic or the Solar Bears at Amway Center, or Orlando City and Orlando Pride at Exploria Stadium.

click to enlarge Downtown Orlando: the heartbeat of the city
Taco Kat / photo by Rob Bartlett


Gringos Locos, 20 E. Washington St., 407-841-5626,

A favorite and dependable taco spot that's appreciated for its late-night hours, quick and friendly service, and variety of options including street tacos, fish tacos, burritos, sangria and beer.

Kres Chophouse, 17 W. Church St., 407-447-7950,

Ideal for date night, Kres Chophouse serves stellar steaks and offers a nice wine selection.

Papi's Smash Burger, 66 E. Pine St., no phone,

Papi's Smash Burger, new from Orlando's Chris Hernandez, is serving up unique atmosphere and burger creations made from 100% Florida grass-fed beef — plus a bar stocked with boozy shakes.

Taco Kat, 11 S. Court Ave., 407-745-0730,

Taco Kat is a new Sonoran-style taco shop that doubles as a neon speakeasy (can you find the secret entrance?).

Bauhaus, 27 E. Pine St., 407-649-0000,

A dark and cozy brick-lined bar known for its elegant cocktails.

Game Room Social Club, 55 N. Orange Ave., no phone,

Billed as "Orlando's newest sports and craft cocktail bar," Game Room Social Club is going big in the old Lizzy McCormack's space.

Hanson's Shoe Repair, 27 E. Pine St., 407-476-9446,

A speakeasy located in one of the oldest buildings in downtown. Your entrance depends on discovering the daily password.

The Robinson Room, 63 E. Pine St., 321-299-0904,

A trendy and sleek coffee and cocktail bar where the people are as pretty as the decor.

Sly Fox, 63 N. Orange Ave., no phone,

Orlandoans love this bar for its photobooth and early-aughts throwback vibes.

Tanqueray's Bar, 100 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-8540,

Patrons can't get enough of this (actual) underground bar with a constant array of live local bands.

Craft & Common, 47 E. Robinson St., 407-723-8078

Craft & Common serves (variably) breakfast, coffee, wine and beer.

Zeppelin Books, 885 N. Orange Ave., 386-212-8570,

Newer destination (in downtown's North Quarter) for local bibliophiles that includes a well-curated selection of books and chapbooks, and it's a regular spot for readings.

CityArts, 9 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-648-7060,

The oldest building in downtown Orlando, this Queen Anne-style structure is now the home of Downtown Arts District, an organization focused on highlighting Orlando as a center for art. People love the CityArts building for its rotating exhibitions and In-Between Series, a monthly creative-music event.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., 844-513-2014,

Catch a Broadway musical, rock show or participate in an interactive pop-up art installation at the Dr. Phil.

Orange County Regional History Center, 65 E. Central Blvd., Heritage Square, 407-836-8500,

The History Center has permanent exhibits on history and nature, hosts Lunch and Learn events with local luminaries, and houses a vast collection of oral histories, archives and photographs.


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